Sunday, September 27, 2015

Notebook: Vikings dominate Chargers, win 31-14

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The Vikings continued to win the battles up front as they knocked off the San Diego Chargers 31-14 on Sunday afternoon. They picked up their second consecutive win and did so in a convincing fashion. 

Updated: September 27th, 2015 9:30pm

By: Daniel House

The Vikings continued to win the battles up front as they knocked off the San Diego Chargers on Sunday afternoon. They picked up their second consecutive win and did so in a convincing fashion. Minnesota was extremely physical and San Diego had a difficult time handling it. Adrian Peterson corralled 126 yards and two touchdowns, while Chad Greenway hauled in a 91-yard interception touchdown. The Vikings controlled the tempo on both sides of the ball and it was evident early. The game was 10-7 at halftime, but the defense buckled down and didn't allow San Diego to score until the final minutes of the game. Both sides of the ball were clicking in today's game and it made a huge difference as the Vikings knocked off the Chargers. With over 70 alumni members in attendance and the presentation of Mick Tingelhoff's Hall of Fame ring at halftime, the Vikings couldn't have performed any better. They displayed a tough and physical brand of football similar to the way many of those greats played the game.

Here are my observations from today's win:

Defensive line wins the battle

The Vikings played with a phenomenal amount of physicality up front. San Diego couldn't handle the blitzing and pressure the front-seven provided. Everson Griffen added a pair of sacks, Anthony Barr notched one, and Sharif Floyd picked up a half sack. Quietly, one of the biggest turning points of this game was Tom Johnson's sack on third down to begin the second half. It gave the Vikings the ball back and Adrian Peterson would sprint for a 43-yard touchdown on the next play. The amount of physicality the defensive line displayed was off the charts. Phillip Rivers didn't have much pocket to work with and Chargers offensive lineman were dropping like flies. Anthony Barr, Gerald Hodges, and Eric Kendricks were consistently blitzing and Mike Zimmer was dialing up a plethora of different stunts. Over the last two games, the physicality has been the difference for this defense. The secondary has covered well and the defensive line has applied a high amount of pressure. Those two variables are key to performing well in the NFL.

Barr, Griffen, and Smith are animals

Anthony Barr was causing havoc in today's game. He had six tackles and a sack, but the amount of pressure he applied was the bigger story. When he was blitzing, he was reaching the quarterback, while forcing hurries. He was isolated in space and still made some excellent open-field tackles. Mike Zimmer can produce many different looks when Barr is on the field. Everson Griffen was dialed in for the duration of the contest. He notched a pair of sacks and made four tackles in run support. Griffen added a pass defensed and was constantly causing disruptions. Harrison Smith was making plays in coverage, while stepping into the box to tackle in the running game. Rookie Eric Kendricks led the team with nine tackles and sniffed out some short throws. He was tackling better and made some significant contributions out of the nickel package. Finally, Gerald Hodges continued to perform well and made some difficult tackles at the line of scrimmage.

Peterson scores two touchdowns 

Adrian Peterson ran the ball extremely well and cracked off some vintage runs during today's game. He carried the ball 26 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns. His most notable run came on a 43-yard score in the third quarter. He reached the edge, stiff armed a defender, and explosively cut across the field to the end zone. Teddy Bridgewater was under center more for runs today and Peterson definitely used that to his advantage. When the Vikings get the running game going, the offense has an entirely different element. However, when the coaches can figure out ways to get Peterson and Bridgewater clicking at the same time, another dimension will be reached. Nonetheless, it's encouraging to see Peterson running with the edge everyone is used to.

Greenway goes the distance

Linebacker Chad Greenway intercepted a pass and took it 91 yards for a touchdown. The ball was deflected in the air and he took it up the sidelines for the fifth-longest interception return in team history. It was a good moment for the 10-year veteran who hasn't saw as many snaps this year. His grandfather Tom was in attendance to watch him play a professional game for the first time. The interception was a great moment for Chad and his family. After it was all over, Chad gave his grandfather the game ball to commemorate the day. This is truly what the game is all about.

Here is a picture from Peggy Greenway:

Injuries add up for the Vikings

The Vikings faced some injuries throughout the game that really started to pile up. Justin Trattou left with an ankle injury, Charles Johnson injured his ribs, Xavier Rhodes suffered a head injury, and Andrew Sendejo exited with a knee injury. The severity of these injuries are unknown, but it certainly will be a concern heading into next week's game against Denver. Trae Waynes filled in for Rhodes and held up relatively well. He nearly hauled in an interception and didn't allow the big play. Waynes also made contributions in run support and notched four total tackles in a half of play. As a whole, it will be worth watching the injury report as the week progresses. If any of these players miss time, the Vikings will be relying on depth to play against the Broncos next week.

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